Diamond Days: high-carat timepieces
Sparkling watches by heritage houses
Van Cleef & Arpels Cadenas
The Cadenas watch is a design classic with a rebellious history: Van Cleef & Arpels first presented the design in 1935, when wearing a wristwatch was all but acceptable for ladies of polite society. The solution was to place the dial at an angle, visible only to the wearer. Here, a secret white mother-of-pearl dial is matched with a white gold bezel. The white gold case is topped with a rectangle of snowflake-set round diamonds; a flexible snake chain bracelet in the same precious alloy adds a modern industrial touch.
Piaget Limelight Gala
In 2013, Piaget rediscovered its Limelight Gala, a soigné timepiece first crafted in 1973. The watch's curvilinear lugs stretch towards the strap in opposite directions lending the face a bold and decorative aesthetic.; a recent iteration with 32mm white gold case is framed by two lugs set with 62 brilliant-cut diamonds totalling 1.75 carat. The integrated buckle of the white gold Milanese mesh is set with an additional brilliant-cut sparkler. The glossy silvered dial is complemented with dark grey Roman numerals.
Bulgari Lvcea Tubogas
Unveiled earlier this year, the Lvcea Tubogas marries two classic design elements Bulgari: the case of the 2014 debuted Lvcea wristwatch – which is named after the Latin word for 'light'- is added to a serpent-like linked Tubogas bracelet. Fusing utilitarian features with elegant details, a 28mm stainless steel case and matching crown is topped with a striking pink cabochon cut stone, and the black lacquered dial is set with contrasting diamond indexes.
Jaeger-LeCoultre 101 Feuille in pink gold
"Some creations have marked the history of watchmaking", says Jaeger-LeCoultre Product Design Director Lionel Favre, describing the brand's 101 Feuille secret watch, first crafted in 1959. One of the timepiece's 167 diamonds is set slightly higher than the rest: push it gently and the leaf-shaped lid opens up to reveal to a silver-opaline dial. The 101 Feuille is powered by the miniature Caliber 101 – which also powered the diamond bracelet JLC watch worn by the Queen for her 1953 coronation. This nano engine which requires the assembly of 98 tiny components, wound by a small crown positioned on the case-back. "The Calibre 101 reconciles technical excellence with elegance, and is an exception to the mastery of absolute miniaturisation", says Favre.
TAG Heuer Link Diamond
TAG Heuer first fine-tuned its emblematic 1987 Link wristwatch in 2016; this year, a luxurious – and sizeable - 41mm edition dazzles with 54 diamonds set on the bezel, matched with a further 204 high-carat stones placed along the first three rows of the signature s-shaped bracelet. A deep-blue mother of pearl – or optional sunray patterned dial - is off-set with steel hour and minute hands.
Cartier Panthère de Cartier with triple loop
It is well known that Cartier's enduring mascot is the panther – the feline love affair dates back to 1914, when the Parisian maison first presented a wristwatch set with onyx and diamonds to mimic the panther's distinct print. In 1983, Cartier launched it's Panthère collection of ladies' wristwatches; the design classic was given a new lease of life just recently. Here, a 20 mm x 25 mm rhodium-finished white gold and matching crown is set with diamonds. Note the new triple loop bracelet which hugs the wrist like the most dextrous of tails.
Chanel Boy·Friend Arty Diamonds
Yes, we have counted: this high-carat, spangled addition to Chanel's signature Boy·Friend watch collection boasts a total of 128 diamonds. A masculine white gold case is fitted with a white gold bezel set with 38 baguette-cut sparklers, the dial is set with 92 and there are five more diamonds on the white gold crown. Close the folding buckle of the white satin strap and discover a further 23 baguette-cut diamonds. A Boy.Friend d'Exception, the model is limited just 18 pieces.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31
Rolex has tweaked its classic Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31, reconsidering the model's case sides and lugs. Powered by the in-house calibre 2236 – which features a new Syloxi hairspring that is insensitive to magnetic fields and 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring – three new models including a stylish yellow gold number fitted with green malachite dial are as mighty as they are chic. Here, a 31mm white gold case is matched with an icy-white mother-of-pearl dial; the bezel is set with 46 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Slim Bijou Rivière Tutti Frutti
At its own purpose-built 3,700 square metres manufacture La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton in Meyrin, Switzerland, the Parisian luxury brand crafts timepieces in line with its travelling heritage. In 2002, Louis Vuitton first launched its Tambour collection: round cases that extend towards their base are an interpretation of traditional Japanese taiko drums. The Tambour Slim collection flips this case on its reverse. A 2018 iteration, the Tambour Slim Bijou Rivière Tutti Frutti, masterfully occupies the space between practical timekeeper and precious jewellery. Worn on a white gold bracelet set with a staggering 312 diamonds, the model features 50 more diamonds on the white gold case. On the dial, 180 diamonds are framed by 32 sapphires set to form a multi-coloured ring of gently alternating tones, from parakeet green (6 o'clock) to royal blue at 12 o'clock. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the vibrant circle echos Virgil Abloh's rainbow catwalk, installed at Paris' Palais Royal for the designer's June 2018 debut as artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear.